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Did you know?

1. No African country names begin with the letters F, H, I, J, O, P, Q, V, W, X, or Y.

2. Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent.

3. African tech startups raise billions of dollars annually, seven African start-ups were included in the World Economic Forum 2021 cohort of 100 Technology Pioneers.

Healing Gardening Ideas Five Plants to Grow

Healing Gardening Ideas Five Plants to Grow.

Five most popular indigenous healing garden plants are aloe leaves, African ginger, milkweed, cancer bush and devils claw root.

The five most popular herbs used for centuries in South African indigenous healing medicine are aloe, African ginger, milkweed, cancer bush and devils claw root.

Indigenous healing garden plants aloe leaves, African ginger, milkweed, cancer bush and devils claw root are African indigenous healing medicines.

Aloe Vera

Aloe leaves are traditionally used for stomach complaints, arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitis, hypertension, and stress. They are also used to treat skin irritations and bruises. Aloe produces two substances, gel and latex, which are used for medicines.  

Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant's skin and is yellow in color. 

The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. The gel is obtained from the cells in the center of the leaf, and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.

Aloe vera’s use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egypt, where the plant was depicted on stone carvings. Known as the plant of immortality, aloe was presented as a funeral gift to pharaohs.


African Ginger 

Fresh roots or rhizomes of African ginger are chewed to treat the flu in some parts of Africa. It can also be used for colds, asthma, to treat malaria and by women during menstruation. The plant has also been traditionally used as an appetite suppressant and sedative.

African ginger is darker in color and higher in oil content, giving a more pungent aroma with a strong scent between eucalyptus and rosemary.  It has a high oil content and level of spiciness; therefore, it is usually preferred for the production of oils and balsams. 

The ginger essential oil purchased from the shop is most likely African ginger and not the lighter colored ginger from the produce section of the supermarket.


Milkweed

Stems of the milkweed plant are widely used as an appetite suppressant, thirst quencher, mood enhancer and as a cure for severe abdominal cramps, hemorrhoids, tuberculosis, indigestion, hypertension, and diabetes.

Over 450 insects are known to feed on some portion of the plant. Numerous insects are attracted to the nectar-laden flowers and it is not at all uncommon to see flies, beetles, ants, bees, wasps, and butterflies on the flowers at the same time.

Strong fiber can be extracted from the stem, which is durable underwater. Giant milkweed stems are kept in the seawater until they become soft and then fiber is extracted from the softened stems. This fiber is so strong that it is commonly used to make loops in the fishing lines from which hooks are suspended.

Fiber extracted from the stems was once used as a bowstring. Wood is used to make fine quality charcoal and gunpowder. Floss obtained from the fruit is used to stuff mattresses. The plant as a whole can be allowed to mulch in the soil to provide protection to crops against soil-borne microbes.

In traditional medicine, five parts of the plant, namely, roots, bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits are used to treat rheumatism. Leaves are considered as a good pain reliever. The matured leaves are smeared with sesame oil, warmed and pressed on aching body parts to provide relief from pain.


Cancer Bush

Leaves of the cancer bush plant have been traditionally used to treat fever, poor appetite, indigestion, gastritis, peptic ulcer, dysentery, cancer, diabetes, colds and flu, cough, asthma, chronic bronchitis, kidney and liver conditions, rheumatism, heart failure, urinary tract infections as well as stress and anxiety.

It is a widespread, drought-resistant plant that grows in the Western, Eastern, and Northern Cape provinces and some areas of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. The Cape Floristic Region, one of the richest areas for plants in the world, is home to the Cancer Bush plant.

Cancer Bush is a medium-sized shrub, with fine grayish-green leaves and red, butterfly-shaped flowers. Its seedpods are large and balloon-like with a slightly reddish tint. Many of its names also refer to medicinal use, such as kankerbos cancer bush; Afrikaans, insiswa dispels darkness; Zulu, phetola to change; Tswana, and lerumo lamadi spear of the blood; North Sotho.

In South Africa, healers, such as herbalists, diviners, bush doctors, Rastafarians, alternative and allopathic medicine practitioners, and regular folks, use Cancer Bush. Cancer Bush is today still one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the Western Cape of South Africa.


Devil’s Claw Root

The roots of devil's claw have been traditionally used for treating diseases of the liver, kidneys, and bladder. It can also be used to stimulate appetite, and for indigestion. There is some moderate evidence that devil's claw, an herb native to Africa, is beneficial for osteoarthritis of the spine, hip, and knee.

 Devil’s claw, scientifically known as Harpagophytum procumbens, is a plant native to South Africa. It owes its ominous name to its fruit, which bears several small, hook-like projections. 

Traditionally, the roots of this plant have been used to treat a wide range of ailments, such as fever, pain, arthritis, and indigestion.

Devil's claw alternative names are unicorn plant, double claw, Arizona devil’s claw, and red devil’s claw. The plant has a long history of use as food and fiber by native peoples and is a flowering plant of the sesame family. 

Aloe leaves are traditionally used in indigenous healing gardens

Aloe leaves are traditionally used in indigenous healing gardens 

Natural Aloe Water Recipe

Ingredients

3 thick aloe leaves

2 cups water

Directions

Cut aloe leaves lengthwise and scrape gel off aloe leaves into a cup with a tight fitting lid. Add water and shake well. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Drink mixture 1-2 times daily to help flush out toxins from the body.

The greatest wealth is health.


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Africa is surrounded by water but is not an island, here are a few African Island facts.

Madagascar is the 4th large island in the world and is located in the Indian Ocean supporting a unique biology, about 90% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth.

Composed of 155 islands, Seychelles is Africa's smallest country. By far the largest island is Mahe, home to about 90% of the population and the site of its capital city of Victoria.

Cabo Verde has a strategic location 310 miles or 500 km from the west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site.

Africa is surrounded by water but by definition Africa is not an island because Africa is a continent. Continents can not be considered islands because of their size and also by historic definition since many people who study geography define islands and continents as two different things.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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